Caring for Psoriasis as You Age

Health Writer

Your skin changes as you age and if you have psoriasis, that means how you care for your skin changes. The medications and products you use during your teens and 20s won’t necessarily work when you are 30, 40, or 60.

Concerns when you are in your 30s and 40s

During your 30s and 40s, you might start to see some of the effects of aging on your skin, especially if you have had extensive exposure to the sun. Smoking, alcohol, and sun exposure are the main reasons for premature aging of the skin.

During this age, you might be more aware of the importance of sunscreen. However, those containing chemicals may be irritating to the skin. Dr. Francesca Fusco, in an article on National Psoriasis Foundation, recommends using natural mineral sunscreens containing zinc or titanium as these are gentler on your skin.

Retinols are effective anti-aging products and are available by prescription. But these products can also be irritants if you have psoriasis. Decreased-strength retinoids are available over-the-counter and may work better for you.

Another concern during your 30s and 40s is psoriatic arthritis. Between 20 and 30 percent of people with psoriasis will also develop psoriatic arthritis. This often develops between the ages of 30 and 55, according to John Hopkins Arthritis Center. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, signs of psoriatic arthritis include:

  • Joint pain and swelling
  • Pain that moves from one joint to another
  • Joints that feel hot to the touch
  • Swollen sausage-like fingers and toes
  • Pain around the feet and ankles
  • Pain in the lower back
  • Nail pitting

If you have psoriasis and are experiencing these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor.

Concerns after the age of 50

Once you move past the age of 50, age-related skin changes become more apparent. Collagen decreases, leading to wrinkles. You may notice age spots and your skin might be much drier than it was in the past. Some of these changes won’t affect psoriasis but others may increase your chances of a psoriasis flare.

As your skin thins, it is much more vulnerable to damage, which can lead to psoriasis plaques forming. It’s important to take precautions to limit skin damage and pay attention to any cuts, scratches, or scrapes.

You may need to decrease the strength of topical medications, such as steroid creams, because they are too strong for aging skin, according to the Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance (PAPAA.) Your skin might also take longer to heal, and psoriasis may take longer to go into remission than when you were younger.

If you are on medications for other health conditions, they may interfere with your psoriasis treatment and some may worsen psoriasis. For example, some arthritis medications and heart drugs, called beta-blockers can make psoriasis worse, according to PAPAA. Make sure you talk to your dermatologist about all medications you are taking. When a new medication is added, contact your dermatologist to see if it will interfere with your treatment or if side effects can cause flare up. This includes over-the-counter medications.

As a general rule — no matter what your age — you should moisturize with creams rather than gels or lotions. Look for products labeled hypoallergenic, alcohol-free, fragrance-free, or for sensitive/rosacea skin, according to Dr. Francesca Fusco, as told to the National Psoriasis Foundation.